How to Use a Prayer Wheel
The prayer wheel should be turned clockwise with single-pointed concentration of body, speech, and mind. The activity is easy to do, the meaning and or purpose is great, and the benefit is great. It is easy and fast to turn the prayer wheel and it does not require great physical strength or many repetitions.
The power of the prayers is released and enhanced by your own mindful intention and prayers for the happiness and relief of suffering of all beings. As the Tibet Tech prayer wheels spins, you may quietly recite one of these prayers:
- May all beings be happy and may all beings be free from suffering.
- Om Mani Padme Hung (Chenrezi prayer to help relive the suffering of all beings)
- Om Ah Hung Bendza Guru Padme Siddhi Hung (Padmasambhava mantra that grants divine powers and realizations)
Buddhist texts teach that mindfully turning a prayer wheel produces the same merit and benefits as having recited the number of prayers (mantras) inside the prayer wheel multiplied by how many times the prayer wheel spins around. This is accomplished through the clockwise turning of the prayer wheel which activates and releases the power of the mantras inside. Deities, Enlightened Beings, Bodhisattvas, Dakinis, and Dharma Protectors automatically help us when we turn a prayer wheel.
Proper Visualizations While Spinning a Prayer Wheel
Spinning a prayer wheel is not a mindless exercise. Spinning the prayer wheel should be done with the proper intentions. The prayer wheel practice should be visualized as a manifestation of the Body, Speech and Mind of the Buddha. With our hands (Body) we spin and move the prayer wheel. With our speech, we recite one of the mantras in the prayer wheel (e.g. Om Mani Padme Hung). And with our mind, we engage in visualizations or recitations, using our motivation and intention to bless all beings and bring peace to our surroundings and the entire world.
Visualizations and contemplations that can be done while spinning a prayer wheel include:
- Pray: "May all beings be happy. May all beings be free from suffering."
- Focus your thoughts on loving-kindness, equanimity, and the benefit of others, not oneself.
- Recite Om Mani Padme Hung, the six-syllable mantra of loving kindness and compassion, while spinning the prayer wheel. This strengthens our mind and brings the optimal intention to the spiritual practice and increases the benefits to all sentient beings.
- Visualize beams of light, bright like the sun, radiating out from the prayer wheel in all directions, illuminating you and purifying your negative thoughts, destroying your negative karma and diseases. Then, visualize the beams of light bringing happiness to all beings and relieving them of their sufferings. All the negativity is absorbed into the prayer wheel and destroyed.
- Focusing on a problem, like a war or tragedy, and spinning the prayer wheel to try and relieve the suffering of the people being harmed and hurt.
Prayer wheels can also be used by sick people for healing. Lama Zopa Rinpoche reports that he knows quite a few people who combined meditation with the prayer wheel and completely recovered from terminal cancer.
After turning the prayer wheel, it is beneficial to dedicate the merit of this spiritual practice for the liberation of sentient beings, the arousal of Bodhicitta (love and compassion for all beings), and the long lives and works of one's teachers (Lamas).
You can also dedicate the merit of one's prayer wheel practice to purify the underlying cause of someone's illness in order to promote healing.
The Buddha once said that undedicated merit is like a drop of water on a stone; it soon evaporates and disappears. Dedicated merit is like adding a drop of water to the ocean; it will persist for as long as the ocean exists.
When to Use a Prayer Wheel
You can spin a prayer wheel during your daily meditation and mantra recitations. The prayer wheel can be spun while performing group spiritual practices such as Chenrezi, The Heart Sutra, A Praise of the Twelve Deeds of Lord Buddha, etc. The prayer wheel should not be spun while the Lama is speaking or giving a spiritual teaching. The prayer wheel can also be spun circumambulating a stupa, a sacred place and even while watching television or listening to radio or music.
There is an excellent "Method for Meditating with the Prayer Wheel" in the book, Wheel of Great Compassion: The Practice of the Prayer Wheel in Tibetan Buddhism by Lorne Ladner.